The Not Quite Adventures of a Professional Archaeologist and Aspiring Curmudgeon

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Poe's Side Hug

Have you heard of Poe's Law? Poe's Law states that it is often difficult to tell a legitimate crackpot from a parody of that crackpot. Although usually applied to fundamentalist religion, Poe's Law really applies to pretty much anyone who's a bit out of touch with reality. For one example, when people like Pat Robertson are wandering about claiming that Haiti was hit with an earthquake because it's made a literal national pact with Satan, well, it's no wonder that it's difficult for people to decide whether Landover Baptist is real or a parody.

However, people who are critical of religious groups really need to be aware of Poe's Law for the simple reason that not to be can often lead them to accept jokes as reality. For example, take a gander at Christian Side Hug:

Christian Side Hug from The Fathers House on Vimeo.

The song and video are jokes, but I have crossed paths with more than a few people who have held this song up as a clear sign of the "paranoid anti-sex stance" of modern Christians. And yet, the entire thing was a joke by a Christian about what that Christian thought was funny.

In other words, those who were quick to mock were the ones who didn't get the joke.

On the other hand, this did lead to one marginally amusing parody:

The curious thing about Poe's law, to my mind, is that it feeds clearly into an echo chamber, and so those people who are exposed to a Poe effect are likely to further dim their view of the group being parodied due to a perception that the lunatic fringe is larger than it is, despite the fact that the perceived large lunatic fringe of the group is actually at least partially composed of parodists.

So, next time you think that you have proof of the further extremes of some group you're opposed to, do a bit more homework. There's a fair chance that you'll find that humor and not conviction is the base of the perceived outrage.


Dave Hasbrouck said...

Well, The 'Christian Side-Hug" rap is both a joke and... not completely a joke. As some of my peers can attest, at First Baptist the 'side hug' really was a thing that they pushed as the youth pastors did indeed insist that hugging from the front would lead to lustful thoughts (not because the genitals might touch, as some of the video commenters have suggested, but because the boys would be able to feel the contours of the girl's breasts if they hugged from the front). Marvin Jacobo flat out told us that there was no reason that two unmarried people should ever hug from the front.


So while the rap may have been intended as a joke, I can confirm that it is a joke about an actual thing.

Anthroslug said...

Wow...just, well, wow...

You have no idea how grateful you just made me that I always declined invitations to attend services at that church.

Dave Hasbrouck said...

When I first joined Facebook I was in a group called "First Baptist Church Recovery", or something like that. I thought I had it bad in that place; many of my schoolmates had it much MUCH worse - particularly the girls.

Anthroslug said...

Based on my recollection of things, that doesn't surprise me.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.